Interval Training

January 26, 2016

Last month, we covered threshold training.  This month, interval training is our topic. 

High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become a very popular method of training, and for many good reasons.  HIIT involves working in bouts of higher intensity (yellow and red) followed by bouts of recovery (yellow and green).  A few of the health and fitness benefits of interval training include: burning more calories in a shorter period of time, improving aerobic capacity (your body’s ability to take in and deliver oxygen to working muscles), and improving fat metabolism (your body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source).

HIIT also provides great variety to your workouts.  You can perform HIIT using many different modalities of exercise, from running to resistance training.  You can also vary the ratio of work to recovery during HIIT.  For example, as you become more fit, you can increase the ratio of work to recovery.

Here are a few sample HIIT programs in order of difficulty from least to most challenging.  Feel free to use these workouts with the modality of your choice.  Be sure to first complete at least a ten minute warm up in the blue and green zones.

Work: Recovery x Sets Work-to-Recovery

    30 sec: 60 sec OR 60 sec: 120 sec x 10     1:2

    30 sec: 30 sec OR 60 sec: 60 sec x 12       1:1

    60 sec: 30 sec OR 120 sec: 60 sec x 10     2:1

You may find that it is challenging to recover down into green during the shorter intervals – this is a common phenomenon –  you should focus on recovering as much as possible during the recovery bouts. If you feel like you need more recovery to be able to work hard again, be sure to listen to your body. A key feature of interval training is to push hard on the work phase and recover as much as possible during the recovery phase. 

You may also notice that over time, you are able to recovery faster during your recovery bouts. This is a sign of the improved efficiency of your cardiorespiratory system – you are getting fitter! In order to maximize the benefits of HIIT, you should allow a day or two of recovery in between sessions. A maximum of three to four days per week of HIIT is recommended.

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